DUBAI, July 9 (Reuters) Iran‘s total number of coronavirus cases has reached 250,458 and a record 221 people died of the disease over the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 12,305, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, has suffered a new spike in the number of daily infections and deaths in recent weeks as lockdown measures have been relaxed to help the economy revive.

A nurse works at Mofid Children’s hospital, where children suspected of being infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Tehran, Iran, July 8, 2020. REUTERS./

President Hassan Rouhani launched new measures on Saturday to try to curb the renewed spread. He said Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols – including social distancing – will be shut for a week.

Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, have been shown wearing masks on state media websites in recent days.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh Editing by Mark Heinrich)